Press Club

Police: Dozens of cars stolen or stripped of airbags over the past three weeks

Arlington is in the midst of a rash of vehicle-related crimes.

In just the past three weeks or so, 28 cars have been stolen and 35 airbags have been stolen, according to the Arlington County Police Department. That’s in addition to numerous break-ins and other auto crimes during that same time period.

Earlier this month, we reported on a series of 20 airbag thefts near Gunston Middle School, all involving Hondas. Thieves — unclear whether it’s the same thief or thieves — struck again early Wednesday.

Nearly a dozen Honda vehicles had airbags stolen from the 2000 blocks of Columbia Pike and S. Eads Street, in the Crystal City area. A tipster tells us the thefts on the Pike happened at the Dorchester Towers apartment parking lot.

“I just went around and every single Honda Civic has their windows broken and airbags stolen,” the tipster said.

More from today’s ACPD crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05180016, 2000 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 1:28 a.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering in progress. Upon arrival, officers located six vehicles that had windows smashed and airbags stolen. All vehicles involved were Honda models. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (Series), 2022-05180045, 2000 block of S. Eads Street. At approximately 6:00 a.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a late larceny from auto. Upon arrival, officers located five vehicles that had windows smashed and airbags stolen. All vehicles involved were Honda models. This investigation is ongoing.

“Since April 27, there have been 35 individual airbags reported stolen,” police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

The department, meanwhile, revealed that at least 28 vehicles have been stolen in May. Most had keys or key fobs inside when they were taken.

“Police Warn Against Leaving Keys Inside Vehicles,” was the headline of the press release issued by the department this morning.

More from ACPD, below.

The Arlington County Police Department is sharing ways motorists can help protect their property as reports of vehicle thefts increase in the County. In the first two weeks of May, police received 28 reports of stolen vehicles. In most cases, the vehicles were unlocked with the keys or key fobs inside.

Method of Theft

Reported incidents indicate multiple suspects will travel together as they search the area for unlocked vehicles. The suspects try door handles of parked vehicles and enter those that are found to be unlocked. They then rummage through the vehicles for items of value and steal vehicles that have keys or key fobs left inside. These incidents typically occur during overnight hours with suspects often committing a series of larcenies by targeting numerous vehicles at a time.

Help Prevent Vehicle Crimes with these Crime Prevention Tips

Property crimes, such as motor vehicle theft and larcenies from auto, are often crimes of opportunity with thieves taking advantage of unsecured doors and windows to steal items left unattended or out in plain view. The Arlington County Police Department recommends following the below safety tips to keep your vehicles and property safe.

  • Be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots, and gas stations.
  • Close and lock all windows and doors when you park. Double click the lock button on the key fob to receive a confirmation beep/chirp or pull on the door handle to verify it’s locked.
  • Park in well-lit areas and activate exterior lights at your home.
  • Never leave the area while your vehicle is running – even for a short duration of time.
  • Do not leave your keys, key fobs, or valet keys in your vehicle. This includes keys to a secondary vehicle.
  • Ensure that your vehicle is turned OFF when leaving it parked and unattended. Vehicles with keyless ignition systems can be driven for extended periods of time even if the key fob is not inside the car. Be sure to read your owner’s manual carefully and familiarize yourself with how to operate your vehicle’s keyless ignition system properly.
  • Keep information, such as the make, model, model year, license plate and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) easily accessible in the event your vehicle is stolen.
  • Participate in the 9 P.M. Routine and encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do so too.

Report Criminal Activity to Police for Investigation

Arlington County Police officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity. The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of members of the public. Common suspicious activity in auto-related crime cases include observing individual(s) looking into your or your neighbors’ cars, individual(s) walking down the street and trying multiple vehicle door handles, and vehicles with open doors with the interior dome lights on. Community members observing criminal activity should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. If you see a suspect in your vehicle, do not approach them and dial 9-1-1 immediately.

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